Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 27

Hybrid View

  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,052

    What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    I'd propose a discussion of what is new in the bourbon world in approximately the last 10 years, in other words, what characterises the bourbon scene today that did not exist in previous generations.

    This is the era coinciding with the start of SB, the spread of consumer whisky magazines, the release of books such as Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, the holding of fairs and exhibitions for consumers to taste and rate whisky, and the release of barrel strength bourbons and expressions marketed in general as super-premium (some of this existed earlier but not like today).

    I'd list the new phenomena as follows:

    - in general a culture of connoisseurship exists - some always appreciated fine bourbon but they were scattered and there was no unity to their efforts

    - the concept of the barrel strength bourbon seems truly new, there may have been one or two examples in the 1930's-1980's but they were very rare, and thus a practice has been revived not seen since whisky was sold from the barrel in the 1800's

    - the related idea to drink bourbon (albeit carefully and in small amounts!) at barrel strength is truly new I think. This was never done before, bourbon always was diluted by addition of ice or water except for the few who might have drunk bonded whisky neat.

    - the idea to use bourbon in certain foods such as bourbon balls and some cooking (bourbon meat balls, in soups and so forth). Isolated or regional examples existed before but the practice is gaining ground.

    - the existence of forums and discussion groups (SB being the leader by far) where bourbons can be discussed, rated and argued over and through which information is disseminated.

    - the release of bourbons finished in barrels which formerly held another spirit or a wine.

    - the beginning - so far very small - of craft bourbon producers, thus bringing things to where they started a very long time ago.

    I would say all these are features of the new bourbon culture.

    Any thoughts?

    Gary

  2. #2
    Guru
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Napoleon, MI
    Posts
    7,442

    Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    I suppose you can add price to that list.
    Pre-1995 I would have never thought I'd pay a hundred dollars or more for a bottle of bourbon.
    ovh

  3. #3
    Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MS
    Posts
    11,771

    Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    Gary, yes, those are salient observations. I would only add we no longer live in a drinking culture. In my parents generation coctail parties were the norm and people would drink and drive in a way that is unthinkable today.

    Now we drink less but better so a new market has emerged where the masters like Elmer Lee and Parker Beam can bottle their best efforts knowing they will be sold, consumed and commented on by knowledgeable aficionados. We will pay the price and they will continue to try and outdo each other.

    I'm not too keen on the experiments on major themes now going on such as using wine barrels to 'finish' a Bourbon. Guys like James Crow, Albert Blanton and Pappy Van Winkle worked out the details of how to make a fine whiskey a century or more ago and those are the footsteps to follow.

    Regards,
    Squire

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,052

    Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    Thanks, gents. As to heightened price, we need to take the good with the bad (but fortunately excellent inexpensive bourbon endures), and as to bourbons finished in barrels that held wines or other spirits, it is possibly the ditto. Experimentation brings risks and rewards.

    Gary

  5. #5
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    SE PA
    Posts
    804

    Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    if i remember right, even though the 'vatting' idea has been around (a response i received not long ago regarding the concept/practice), it has now become more widespread in this NBCulture, right?

    ...and...in repsonse to what you call the culture of connoisseurship ....not that this is a major insight, but personally, and oddly(!), my concept of whiskey being drunk neat was inserted into my consciousness (and seeped down into my subconscious) when i read an advertisement about GEORGE DICKEL...the fact that it was called 'sipping' whisk(e)y made me rethink the practice of enjoying the experience. to me, drinking it straight (back inthe early 80s) meant just slogging it down. so, i remember, i bought a bottle of the Dickel and didn't mix a bit of it! i was still young...and i don't remember how good it was. at least i don't remember how BAD it was...but i felt more 'dignified' drinking it that way...

    now i HAD first sipped Old Bushmills and didn't even think of mixing it. but again, i didn't think of american whiskey or the irish spirit as really related.

    but the point is that, yep, GDickel's suggestion of SIPPING gave me an appreciation for the potentiality of drinking whiskey/bourbon in a more elevated way.

    of course, later, i discovered some REALLY good sipping choices.
    HUP!

  6. #6
    Guru
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Northern Kentucky
    Posts
    3,423

    Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    As you have termed it, the "culture of connoisseurship" in bourbon is a reflection of a broader trend among American consumer--- a move to higher price, (perceived) higher value brand-name goods (e.g., Starbucks, Nike, etc.)


    Bourbon has been somewhat late to the game but has followed other spirits (most notebly, Vodka) in using more unique / expensive-appearing packaging and advertising that focuses more on the "experiential" aspects over the actual product attributes.
    John B

    "Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons… that is all there is to distinguish us from other animals."

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,052

    Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    I agree fully on all counts.

    Vatting can be added to this list of new consumer approaches to bourbon - and rebarreling.

    Gary

  8. #8
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    681

    Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    I would also add that due to the "culture of connoisseurship", the knowledge and excitement of bourbon has led to a pretty active culture of bottle scavenging for old dusty bottles.

    These bottles before held little value as they sat on shelves sometimes for decades. Now they are highly prized and generally are worth much more than the prices currently paid.
    "That rug really tied the room together" -- Jeffery Lebowski

  9. #9
    Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Pelham, AL
    Posts
    3,892

    Unhappy Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    A negative trend that I lament is the slow, but continual reduction of proof of formerly higher proof bottlings. This may be related to price increases, but I would still prefer to pay an actual price increase than to see a favored bottling go from, e.g., 90 to 86 to 80.

    Tim
    Self-Styled Whisky Connoisseur

  10. #10
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Venice
    Posts
    230

    Re: What Is New In Bourbon Culture Post-1995?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post

    I would say all these are features of the new bourbon culture.

    Any thoughts?
    All excellent observations and all very true. The big question for me is WHY?!? Where did all these bourbon enthusiasts come from? I myself don't even really know how I got into this. Why was I intrigued? Why are others intrigued?

    The only sort of limited insight I might be able to give is that bourbon isn't so special when looking at the spirits market in general. It appears that all spirits are doing well these days. So the question then becomes why are all sprirts doing well? Some might say it is simply market cycles, and I'm sure that is part of it.

    But why this culture of connoisseurship? This appears to be a new part to the cycle. Why are we trying to describe bourbon like wine guys talk about wine? Julian Van Winkle Sr sure as hell didn't use words like palate back in the day to talk about bourbon. What was the reason for the massive bourbon growth in the 70s which caused the glut in the 80s? Why is it different this time?

    Surely part of this must also come from our modern consumerist culture. Many strive so hard to be an "individual" but are only able to do so through the products they buy. Does this extra choice exist only because we are trying to be different or better from one another?

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture
    By cowdery in forum Paraphernalia
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 10-11-2007, 14:26
  2. 1995 EWSB UNVEILED BY HEAVEN HILL
    By jbutler in forum Industry News
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-20-2004, 06:50

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top